Not that the first Monday after the draft has passed, it’s time take a look at where OTC’s projection for the 2022 compensatory picks stand. If you have any questions about how this list is generated, please take a look at the cancellation charts for all 32 teams here, and also refer to OTC’s compensatory formula page as a reference for where certain contracts are ranked.
|IND||7||Anthony Walker Jr.|
|Over 32-pick limit; not awarded|
What stands out as of now is just how few 3rd round compensatory picks are on the board. This was an offseason, perhaps aggravated by the fall in the salary cap, that saw very few players leave for other teams on high valued contracts. As of now, only two 3rd rounders are projected to be awarded: to the Steelers for Bud Dupree going to the Titans, and to the Lions for Kenny Golladay going to the Giants.
However, for those who are hoping for teams with 4th rounders to see those picks upgraded to 3rd rounders, that hope is founded, with two possibilities on how it could be fulfilled. One is if the formula considers fewer leaguewide players than last year’s number of approximately 1,944, which is what the 2022 projection is currently using. That precise number will be unknowable until the conclusion of the regular season. The other is if the players in question beat their estimated snap count percentages, an estimation of which the projection uses a snap count average over the past four seasons. The six players in particular that we should keep an eye on in this regard are as follows, all of whose contracts are just below the 3rd/4th round cutoff:
|Player||Former Team||4 Year Snap % Average|
|William Jackson III||Bengals||79.1%|
An important fact that was confirmed in the last comp pick release is that teams are no longer allowed to cut compensatory free agents they signed and get relief from those CFAs counting against them in the formula. This means that there is only one way remaining for teams to try to work the compensatory formula in their favor, and that would be to limit the amount of snaps of certain CFAs to ensure that they don’t adversely affect their cancellation chart.
One such case I am looking at in this regard involves the Steelers signing Joe Haeg to a $2.3 million APY contract. As it stands right now, this signing cancels out a 6th round comp pick for the departure of Mike Hilton. However, this also assumes that Haeg will sustain his four year snap average of 36.7%. If Haeg ends up just being a backup that sees little to no action in Pittsburgh, that might be enough to nudge his contract out of qualifying as a CFA and reopen up that 6th rounder.
Another one that is more complicated involves the bottom of New Orleans’s cancellation chart. They saw special teamer Justin Hardee leave for the Jets for $2.25 million APY, while signing disappointing 2nd round edge rusher Tanoh Kpassagnon away from the Chiefs for the same APY. Both contracts are on the cusp of qualifying the players as compensatory free agents, and nothing would change for the Saints if both contracts don’t qualify. But if Hardee’s contract does not qualify while Kpassagnon’s does, the Saints would lose a 6th rounder for the departure of Sheldon Rankins. This is more likely to happen than the other way around, as Hardee, as a special teamer, is unlikely to get a snap count boost in the formula. However, given that the Saints exercised the fifth year option on Marcus Davenport’s contract, and also used their 2021 first round pick on Payton Turner, there’s a chance that Kpassagnon may not see enough action to allow his contract to qualify. If the Saints feel that Davenport and Turner are better edge rush options than Kpassagnon, it might behoove them to play Kpassagnon as little as possible in order to preserve that 6th round comp pick.
Meanwhile, a few teams may have to hope that teams play their former players as much as possible:
- The Bills signed Matt Haack as their punter away from the Dolphins for an APY of $1.825 million. Normally, an APY that low would not qualify a contract for CFA status. However, the 2020 CBA revealed a different playtime boost for kickers and punters that is reliant on stats other than snap counts. For punters, that would be number of punts and the number fielded inside the 20 yard line. If Haack’s contributions from 2020 are met in 2021, that should be enough for him to be a CFA. And the Dolphins need his contract to count if they want to stay positive in the net number of CFAs lost in order to get a 5th round comp pick for the departure of Davon Godchaux to New England. Therefore, Dolphins fans should be rooting for the division rival Bills to punt with Haack as much as possible, something that should come pretty natural to them.
- The Giants signed John Ross to a $2.5M APY contract. However, they just used their 2021 first round pick to get Kadarius Toney, and their wide receiver depth chart is deep alongside him with Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton also on the team. If Ross can’t get on the field, that’s bad news for the Bengals, who need him to be a CFA in order to positive in the net number of CFAs lost. If Ross isn’t a CFA, that would be devastating for Cincinnati, who could lose a 4th or 3rd round comp pick for the departure of one of either William Jackson III or Carl Lawson.
- The Ravens could have some concern if Jihad Ward does not get enough playing time in Jacksonville, as they took a chance in signing Sammy Watkins to a CFA worthy contract, with the aim that his signing would offset the departure of Ward. However, if that doesn’t work out, Baltimore would see one of their two 4th/3rd round cusp comp picks projected for the departures of Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue to disappear.
- The Falcons are currently not on the 2022 comp picks board, but they could get back on if Justin McCray is able to play enough snaps in Houston. Atlanta should hope that in some way McCray can emerge as a starting offensive lineman for the Texans this season.
- Returning to Tanoh Kpassagnon and Joe Haeg, the only long shot that the Bucs and Chiefs have to get any 2022 comp picks is if their contracts qualify them as compensatory free agents, and that the picks also make the 32 pick limit.